A/perture Cinema enjoys successful opening

by Keith Barber

A cursory glance at the Facebook page dedicated to A/perture Cinema, the new 160-seat art-house theater located off 4 th Street in downtown Winston- Salem, offers insight into the public’s reaction to the venue’s grand opening on Jan. 10. Amid the several dozen congratulations and wishes of good luck extended to majority owner Lawren Desai, one can find the following post: “I literally [fell] down with excitement and kicked my feet in the air when I heard. The City of the Arts … WITH OUT AN ARTS CINEMA!” I said. “Now I can’t say that anymore.”

Another fan of A/perture posted the following: “Your spaces are STUNNING, your attention to detail (down to your fabulous font) is amazing… the film selection intelligent…. Wonderful news for downtown Winston, and Winston-Salem in general. GO, GO, GO!” Granted, the general Facebook vibe invites and even encourages hyperbole, but in the case of A/perture, that kind of praise is well deserved.

Prior to the 7:20 p.m. showing of New York, I Love You on Jan. 11, there was a bit of logjam at the entrance to the lobby as patrons tried to escape the bitter cold temperatures and found themselves huddling in the small vestibule leading to the compact yet well-appointed theater lobby. Otherwise, things flowed smoothly throughout the evening. The mechanics and logistics of the theater’s unconventional design are still being worked out, Desai said, but all in all, things went off without a hitch during “debut weekend.”

Upon entering one of the two 80-seat venues, it takes on the feel of a black box theater — a fairly Spartan performance space with black walls and a flat floor that are commonly found at film festivals. The screens at A/perture are elevated to allow for clear visibility for all patrons. The 35 mm projectors offer excellent picture quality. The seats are plush by art house cinema standards and JBL Surround Sound system provides crisp sound quality. Another plus is the sound baffling between the theaters. One reason I try to avoid going to movies at the local Cineplex is the frequent phenomenon of sound bleeding in from an adjacent theater.

The volume could’ve been turned up a notch for those of us sitting near the back, but that could simply be a sign I’m using my iPod too much these days.

New York, I Love You is an American twist on a marvelous 2006 film, Paris Je T’Aime. A compilation of a number of short films that interweave poetically while documenting beautiful and unexpected love stories in the Big Apple, New York, I Love You is a treat. As in Woody Allen’s 1979 masterpiece Manhattan, the city plays a pivotal role in the vignettes filled with humor, irony and a lot of heart. New York, I Love You enjoyed a warm reception during opening weekend, Desai said, along with A Town Called Panic, the Belgian stop-motion feature, and director Lone Scherfig’s highly-acclaimed feature, An Education.

Desai said she was surprised at how many patrons passed through her theater’s doors last weekend.

“It just shows you here that people want to see these kinds of films,” she said.

On Monday, Desai said a young man traveled from Greensboro to see A Town Called Panic, which she scored as a personal victory.

“Usually we have to go to Greensboro to see indie films,” Desai said.

A/perture is now part of a very elite group of art house cinemas in North Carolina. In a larger sense, A/perture represents an investment in downtown Winston-Salem, and a little friendly competition to the stadium theaters that reside on the outer edges of the city limits. A/perture exhibits films that never make it to the Cineplex, and fulfills Desai’s vision of a perfect night out in downtown Winston-Salem. Desai said for years, she and her husband, Jigar, have longed to enjoy dinner and a movie downtown. Clearly, they weren’t the only ones, and the future of A/ perture Cinema is bright indeed.

wanna go? A/perture Cinema 311 W. 4 th St. Winston-Salem


A/perture Cinema, an art house theater located at 311 W. 4 th St. indowntown Winston-Salem, held its grand opening Jan. 10. Theater ownerLawren Desai described the community support as “pretty amazing” duringthe venue’s debut weekend. On Jan. 15, the highly-acclaimed independentfilm The Messenger starring Woody Harrelson, will hold its regionalpremiere at A/perture. [photo by Keith T. Barber]